Abstract Cloud manufacturing is a new concept extending and adopting the concept of Cloud computing for manufacturing. The aim is to transform manufacturing businesses to a new paradigm in that manufacturing capabilities and resources are componentized, integrated and optimized globally. This study presents an interoperable manufacturing perspective based on Cloud manufacturing. A literature search has been undertaken regarding Cloud architecture and technologies that can assist Cloud manufacturing. Manufacturing resources and capabilities are discussed in terms of Cloud service. A service-oriented, interoperable Cloud manufacturing system is proposed. Service methodologies are developed to support two types of Cloud users, i.e., customer user and enterprise user, along with standardized data models describing Cloud service and relevant features. Two case studies are undertaken to evaluate the proposed system. Cloud technology brings into manufacturing industry with a number of benefits such as openness, cost-efficiency, resource sharing and production scalability.